Cultural Appropriation

Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation is different from cultural borrowing. Cultural burrowing is the trade of ideas between two cultures that came in contact. We see this all over the place. Cultural appropriation is not just a trade of ideas. It is more than that.

What is culture?

Culture is a shared way of life of a defined group of people. To read in detail go through the link-

Definitions of Cultural appropriation

According to Cambridge Dictionary, Cultural appropriation is the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.

Dictionary meaning– Cultural appropriation is the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.

Cultural Appropriation

It may be defined as taking something from a culture that isn’t your own and not giving the full or any sort of residue or credit back.

Image source- The Wilson Beacon

The heart of cultural appropriation is not just a cultural object, but also power. Appropriation happens when you are a part of the dominant culture or in power who can take a part of a marginalized culture that you enjoy, separate it from its original meaning and use them for entertainment purposes without realizing the importance of its original context or negatively represents the culture.

Difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation

When someone takes elements from other cultures and remakes them and reduces them into a meaningless pop-cultural item then this is known as cultural appropriation. For example- use of tribal paint face for fashion purposes, use of Halloween fun costumes, wearing of headdress for fun in the cultural festival.

Traditionally headdress is gifted to the tribal leaders who have earned the right to wear it. It involves ceremony and protocols and is considered a sacred item. It takes many years to earn a headdress. They have their values and traditions. Some people just copy the headdress and wear it for fun. This is not so cool.

Image source- Martial Arts Planet

On the other hand, cultural appreciation truly honours one culture’s values and traditions. When you appreciate culture you take time to learn elements of the culture, interact with the people. It is a cultural exchange based on mutual respect. There is consent and participation.


If you borrow elements of any culture you must give credit to that culture and do things in the right way. One should never insult another culture. There are various ways of cultural appropriation or misused. You can’t just like pick and choose what you think is cool from anyone’s culture and use it to make money.

To represents any culture one should consult the people who belong to that culture so those cultural elements do not get misused. We all should respect every culture.

Remember appreciation good, appropriation bad.

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